Have you noticed what could be the latest trend in the church world? Coaching. Seems like all the big names have been drafted, including Kem Meyer, Tony Morgan, Greg Surratt and Shawn Wood, Carlos Whitaker, and now Mark Batterson.
The opportunity for one-on-one time with smart people comes at a price: $800 to $4,500 (and some prices aren’t listed online). You get a lot for your money including a chance to go way beyond what you can learn from blogs, books and conferences. With so many coaches joining the team, it’s kind of like job security for the church world. Or maybe peace of mind in a recession.
But as cool as having any of these big names as a coach would be, something made me a little uneasy. Mark Batterson kept talking about friends and mentors in the same breath as his pay-for-coaching. You can pay for a coach but you don’t pay for a friend or mentor. Perhaps it’s just semantics, but it looked like a foul.
So I shot Mark an e-mail to get his take (his response was edited for clarity and length):
I honestly hadn’t thought through the “language” until you emailed. Semantics is important. I think coaching might be a better term (though some of these relationships will likely result in friendships). I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wrestle with this very thing. If this is viewed as “paying to be friends with someone” then it gets pretty ugly. Makes me cringe. I felt really convicted about using “mentor” and “friend” so I went back and edited my posts to take out that language and reflect what I think it is that is being offering: a coaching relationship. I feel comfortable with giving people the opportunity to be coached at a cost.
I mentor dozens of leaders and I’ve never been paid for my time. But this is only for those who want a more intensive coaching relationship. I just can’t offer that to everybody. If someone wants to pay for it that is great. I think it will be worth the investment. If not, that is fine. I would still meet with them, just not in the formalized coaching way.
We have always given our time and resources for free so this a little outside the box. We hope it helps some leaders go to the next level.
I think sometimes we devalue coaching or consulting in church circles. We pay a life coach or financial planner or trainer. Why not a leadership coach?
Why not? The same could be said for devaluing designers and other creative folks in the church. Expertise is worthy of its due payment. Good call. Thanks for the honesty and clarification, Mark.
If you need a good game day pep talk or someone to put you through the paces, check out the many new church coaches entering the game. Let’s just be sure to call them coaches and not mentors so we can save the cringing for the sports metaphors.